*EDITOR’S NOTE: Coincidentally, a few hours after I published the below post, a friend sent me a piece written on xoJane called “It Happened To Me: There Are No Black People In My Yoga Classes and I’m Suddenly Feeling Uncomfortable With It.” (I’m not going to dignify this with a link, but if you missed it, Google.) The writer had trouble focusing because there was a heavyset black woman in her class. Apparently, it was the black woman’s first time at yoga, and she spent most of the time staring at the writer with “hostility.” The writer felt the black woman was “judging and resenting her,” and the experience made the writer hyper-aware of her “skinny white girl body.”
By the time I finished reading, I had a knot in my stomach. As I touched on in my post below, exercising with a group of strangers—especially when it’s your first time—takes courage. But it never once occurred to me that my race, or anyone else’s, was a factor for my classmates. What disgusts me even more than the writer’s privileged, condescending essay is that xoJane even allowed this post to go up—clearly, a cry for page hits.
Newsflash to the writer: I’m black, I’m not skinny, and I have been to yoga, multiple times. But you can save your pity, because I am not a fan of the practice, and it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m black. However, if we ever find ourselves in the same class together, I apologize in advance for making you uncomfortable.
(Original post follows)
Confession: I hate yoga.
This might not sound like a huge revelation, but in New York, there are two types of fitness freaks: Runners, and yogis. And I am neither, especially not a yogi. Yes, I have given it a try a few times, but I’m convinced it’s just not for me.
Don’t believe me? Ok, fine. Here’s a peek at what a typical yoga session is like in The World According to Arianna:
15 Minutes: Instructor is twisting my limbs into something resembling a basic pose. Ouch! Hey, lady: My leg doesn’t bend like that.
30 minutes: She’s returned, and now she’s spinning me backward. Apparently, I was the only person facing the wrong way.
45 minutes: Praying to the yoga Gods that the girl behind me doesn’t notice I just passed gas. Darn that downward facing dog.
60 minutes: Where am I? What’s happening? There are people rolling up mats…oh, right. We were supposed to be meditating, and I fell asleep. Oops.
I’ve had yoga enthusiasts tell me I just need to keep going back to learn the moves, I haven’t found the right guru, and I should focus on quieting my mind. Alas, it’s impossible, for I am the girl who’s too impatient for inner peace. I’d rather find it by losing myself in a good book, or getting my heart pumping through cardio or kickboxing. (And no, not running. It’s tedious, hurts my shins, and reminds me of being one of the slowest kids in PE. When my co-workers recently invited me to join them for the Brooklyn half marathon, my answer was a quick and polite HELL NO.)
Whatever the case, I’ve officially decided: A yogi I am not, even if that makes me the only one in New York City. Perhaps when I’m a bit older, calmer, and more peaceful, I’ll try again. Until then, I’ll be burning brain cells and calories while watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians on the elliptical.